Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or moving
into your final, forever home, it’s important to know what questions to ask.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new home without thinking through
the details that will ensure you love your house for years to come! At Inhabit
Real Estate Group, we want to help you buy a house that meets your needs and make
the buying process as smooth as possible. By providing you with this list of 10
questions to consider before you buy a home, we hope that you never feel
blindsided or overwhelmed by this important financial investment.
1. What’s My Housing Budget?
The first question to
answer is, how much house can I afford? Our real estate agents will discuss
your budget with you at your first meeting, so that they can find and show you
homes within that price range. They will also recommend you speak with a local
lender – that way, you can make sure there are no credit surprises and avoid a
monthly payment that is too burdensome. Use our mortgage
calculator to determine what you feel comfortable paying. Don’t
forget to also calculate for other monthly housing expenses like homeowners’
insurance, property taxes, and HOA dues.
How Much Should I Save for a Down Payment?
The recommended goal
for a down payment is 20% of the cost of the home. You can still purchase a
home for as little as 3% down, but if you don’t put 20% down, you’ll have to
pay a PMI (private mortgage insurance) fee.
3. How Much are Closing Costs?
In most cases, expect
to pay 2-5% of your home’s purchase price in closing costs. This is on top of
your down payment, so make sure you’ve set aside an appropriate amount
dedicated to these expenses.
4. Are There Any Problems with the House?
Once you’ve found a
home you like, you may fall in love with the floor plan and neighborhood but
fail to realize there are issues with the structure or other systems that
aren’t visible. This is why a home inspection is necessary before you buy. The
current homeowner will provide a list of known problems, but an inspector will
tell you if anything is not up to current code or not working properly. This
information can help you with negotiations or let you know what issues you
might need to be prepared to address in the future.
5. How Old is the Roof?
The average lifespan
of an asphalt roof is 20 years. Make sure you know the age of a roof before you
buy a house, so you don’t have a surprise expense in a year or two. Replacing a
roof can be costly, and while an older roof may not be a reason to pass on a
house, it is information you want to be fully aware of.
6. How Old are the Appliances?
Similar to the roof,
replacing appliances needs to be an expected expense, not a surprise. Be sure
to gather as much information as possible from the current homeowners. This
includes the HVAC system, water heater, stove, dishwasher, and the
refrigerator, washer and dryer if they are staying with the house.
7. What’s Included in the Purchase of the Home?
Make sure you ask
what is included in the purchase of the house. Are window treatments, light
fixtures, and appliances included? Your real estate agent will help you find
out what’s included but be sure to ask specifically about the items that matter
most to you.
8. What Are Similar Homes Selling For?
Your real estate
agent will go over comparable sales with you to make sure that the purchase
price lines up with the cost of similar homes. The CMA, or competitive market
analysis, will compare square footage, location, and updates to make sure the
listing price – and your offer – is fair.
9. Why is the Current Homeowner Selling?
People sell their
homes for a variety of reasons. Some feel their current house is too small,
others want to move closer to friends and family, others are relocated for
their job. Some believe the neighborhood or schools have declined and they want
a home in a better location. You’ll learn a lot about how competitive to make
your offer and how you might need to plan your move.
10. How Many Days Has the House Been on the Market?
Your real estate
agent can tell you how hot the housing market is, that is, how quickly homes
are selling. This will help you know whether or not to be concerned if you find
a house that’s been on the market for an extended period. Homes that have been
sitting on the market for months may have some minor issues, or it may give you
an advantage in negotiating the price. In a hot market, when houses go fast,
you may be encouraged to be more aggressive with your offer to have the best
chance of getting the house.
If you’re considering moving from one house to
another, check out our Guide to Selling Your Home before you let
thoughts of more bedrooms and a bigger kitchen lead you to a hasty decision. If
you’re ready to make a move, contact Inhabit Real Estate Group today. One
of our agents will guide you through the whole process and help you find the
house of your dreams!